ST. MARYS-Winning can be contagious. Just ask the Blue Devils from St. Marys.
After finishing the 2011 campaign by winning four of their final five regular season games, the Blue Devils of head coach Jodi Mote opened the 2012 season in fine fashion with a 24-15 victory over arch rival Ritchie County.
"It (last season) helped because it gave us a strong core of kids who dedicated themselves in the offseason," explained Mote. "You could see it out there on the field tonight. The kids played hard and with confidence."
Photo by?Jim Butta
St. Marys’ David Gray tries to power his way past the Ritchie County defense Friday. The Blue Devils won, 24-15.
And, a nearly unstoppable running game.
Led by junior Noah Spitzer's 133 yards on 17 carries and David Gray's 103 yards on 18 totes of the pigskin the purple and gold clad Devils piled up 329 yards on 58 attempts and scored four touchdowns-three on runs of 10 yards by Spitzer, 5 yards by Gray and 3 yards by senior Derek Barnhart-while the defense kept the Rebels off of the scoreboard until late in the third quarter.
St. Marys, which plays host to Wirt County at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, got on the scoreboard first when Spitzer culminated a four-play, 20 yard drive that was set up by Allen Pratt's recovery of a Trevor Shepler fumble at the Rebels' 20.
Those would be the only points scored until the final 25 seconds of the half when the Blue Devils put together an eight-play, 64-yard drive that ended with an 8-yard scoring toss from Gray to junior Johnny Riggs.
About the only negative for Blue Devil fans during the first 24 minutes was the team's inability to punch in either two-point conversion try, sending the two teams to the locker rooms with St. Marys leading by a score of 12-0.
Ritchie County, which travels to Roane County next Friday night, continued to struggle on offense as the second half got under way. A three-and-out on the Rebels first possessions gave the hosts a first-and-10 at the Ritchie 44 with 10:47 showing on the clock.
Seven plays, and two and one half minutes later, Gray pushed the score to 18-0 in favor of the Blue Devils when the 185-pounder bullied his way over the goal line from 5 yards out.
The Rebels would finally come to life on offense on their next possession, taking over on their 28 and driving the football 72-yards on seven plays with Devon Jones scoring the first touchdown of the season for the blue and gray when he sprinted past the St. Marys defense from 20 yards out. Freshman Orlando Burgy made good on the PAT and Ritchie had pulled to within 18-7 with 5:27 left in the third quarter.
St. Marys appeared to be poised to answer that score with one of its own, driving to the Ritchie 14 on its next possession before stalling out and giving the ball to the visitors with 7:43 left in the game and 86-yards from the goal line.
Ritchie, however, answered with its best drive of the night, 16-plays later the Rebels had pulled to within three points, 18-15, after Shepler connected with Ryan Malson for a 9-yard scoring pass and then found the former-Parkersburg South player for the two-point conversion on the next play.
That would be as close as the guests would get as Burgy's onside kick attempt failed to travel the necessary 10 yards and St. Marys' Derek Barnhart made the Rebels pay for their decision by icing the game away with a five-yard run with 1:10 showing on the clock.